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A stack of iPad minis are shown after the device went on sale at Apple's retail store in Palo Alto, California November 2, 2012. The launch of Apple Inc's iPad mini attracted smaller crowds from Sydney to New York on Friday than have been typical for previous Apple product debuts, events marked by people lining up for hours or even days.

ROBERT GALBRAITH/REUTERS

Apple Inc said its sales of WiFi only iPads had doubled from its last launch as it sold 3 million in the three days since the introduction of the two newest versions of its popular tablet computer.

While lines for Apple's launch of its iPad mini and its fourth-generation iPad appeared lighter than usual at some stores on Friday, the company said on Monday that demand was so strong that it "practically sold out of iPad minis."

"We're working hard to build more quickly to meet the incredible demand," Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook said in a statement.

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The company said it had shipped many of the new iPads ordered before the release date, but some would not be sent until later this month.

Apple said its sales number was double the first-weekend sales of 1.5 million WiFi only models for the third-generation iPad sold in March.

The previous iPad's first-weekend sales of 3 million units included devices with cellular connections as well as the cheaper WiFi only units.

Raymond James analyst Tavis McCourt said that while the sales number looked good, the company would need to sell another 20 million iPads this quarter to meet his estimate.

"There's still a lot of wood to chop in the quarter," Mr. McCourt said. He also noted that it was Apple's first time launching two different iPad models in one quarter.

Apple said iPad mini and fourth-generation versions with both WiFi and cellular connections would not ship for another few weeks in the United States and in many more countries later this year.

The 7.9-inch iPad mini marks Apple's first foray into the smaller-tablet segment and is the company's first major new device since the death of co-founder Steve Jobs last year.

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Apple shares were up 1.3 per cent at $584.38 in morning trading on Nasdaq.

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